"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home." - C. S. Lewis

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Best of It Is...

To be honest, there's not much I know about John Wesley.  I know that he came from a devout family, with influential parents and at least one well-known sibling.  I know he was a pastor a couple of centuries ago, but that pretty much sums up my knowledge of his life.

There is one other thing I know about John Wesley, and that is something he said.  You see, John Wesley was the author of one of my favorite quotes:

"The best of it is, God is with us."

Heard It All Before
We've heard it so much we forget.  Ironic, isn't it?  We could recite the Christmas story by heart, but how much do we really think about it?

How much
can we really think about it?  How much can our limited gray matter really take in?  How can a human being limited by time, space, and ability grasp infinity?

Jesus didn't have to do it.  Centuries ago, He spoke and the world became.  At His command, the Red Sea parted.  By His decree, kings and kingdoms rose and fell.  Nations came and went at His bidding.

No, He didn't have to do it.  But He did it anyway.  He entered our world - as one of us.

The One who established time now lived in it.  The One who created everything was now limited by human finiteness.  He entered His world as a baby, weak in ability.

Each name of Christ has unsearchable meaning, but I think "Emmanuel" is special.  It means "God with us."  God with us!  God.  With.  Us.

Not fixing our problems from afar.  Not declaring us free but avoiding all association with us.  We praise Him for His power and thank Him for His work in our lives, but John Wesley was right.  The best of it is that no matter our need, no matter our situation, no matter our pain - God is
with us!

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing."

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Listen for the Marching

Whakarewarewa Forest, looking up - Picture of Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua

The clandestine army of warriors crept as close as they dared to the unsuspecting enemy.  They trusted their leader (and his God), but thirsted to strike out at their foe, however superior the enemy forces may be.

Time slowly passed as the fighting men waited expectantly for their chance to do what they had come to do.  The strength that gave them courage in battle strained to obey the order to wait.  As the men lingered, they heard a faint thum, thum, thum coming from above them.  Looking up, they saw nothing.  But they knew something was there.

Often as I read an account in the Bible, I wish I could have been there personally to witness it.  Seriously - how amazing would it have been to be there when the Red Sea parted?  Think of the incredible grandeur of witnessing Christ's ascension into heaven or the outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples left behind!

What would it have been like to be there with David and his men?

David had just recently been crowned king of Israel.  His first battle as king - against the ever-present Philistines - ended in victory for the rookie.  Now he faced the Philistines "yet again" (2 Samuel 5:22).

But their king knew that he was in good hands.  "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6).

As the apostle Paul later echoed, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). The red sea parted for the Israelites.  Christ arose to seal our hope (1 Peter 1:3).  The Spirit came to help us as we tarry on this earth.

It's true, isn't it?  God is for us!  As Benjamin Franklin said during the arduous times of America's beginning, "God governs in the affairs of men!"  How freeing to know that God penetrates the filthy crust of our world and enters the messes of our lives.

Imagine the goosebumps those fighting men must have had as they heard the marching in the tops of the trees.  They couldn't see anyone.  They couldn't tell exactly how this would help them in this specific circumstance.  But they could hear them.  They knew God was working.  He was with them, on their side.

It’s against our nature, isn’t it?  When we find ourselves in desperate situations, like David and his men, we get frantic, seeking for a way to fight, a way to win.  Yet God calls us to leave it in His hands.

Whether we face disappointment, stress, tragedy, inconveniences, trauma, or just plain ordinariness, we are not called to fight in our own strength.  Sometimes we will fight, yes, but not without Him on our side.  Not until He says it is time.

We may never see exactly how He reached into our mess and worked in ways we would never have imagined.  We may never understand His providence in our circumstances.  But sometimes, if we listen carefully, we can hear the sound of marching.

And we will know He is with us.  No matter what.
Photo of Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest is courtesy of TripAdvisor